Clinton Says Talks With Taliban Unpleasant but Necessary

June 23, 2011 - 11:30 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is defending the Obama administration's outreach to the Taliban as unpleasant but necessary to bring stability and security to Afghanistan as the U.S. begins to drawdown troops from the country.

Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday that true peace cannot be achieved in Afghanistan without reconciling the fractured elements of its society. She said U.S. officials were involved in "very preliminary" contacts with Taliban members. But she stressed that Washington would not deal with extremists who are unwilling to break their ties with al-Qaida and to support the Afghan constitution, including its provisions for respecting the rights of women and minorities.

Clinton said history shows that insurgencies are nearly impossible to defeat without a combination of military pressure and negotiation.